Carers part of growing workforce

A new report has found manufacturing is no longer the largest industry employer in western Sydney — health care and social assistance is. ISABELL PETRINIC reports.

‘‘I do know quite a few carers personally in western Sydney now, whereas I didn’t know any when I started [in the sector] two years ago,’’ Alanna Humlin of Penrith said.

"I also know some who are looking to enter the sector."

Ms Humlin, 22, is employed by disabilities services organisation Sunnyfield as a residential support worker at a group home in Castle Hill, where she helps four young men with intellectual disabilities live as independently as possible.

She does this by helping with cooking, cleaning, medication needs, shopping, community access and specialist appointments — day or night.

Sunnyfield also operates a Day Options Program in Kingswood, where people with a disability can interact with one another while taking part in art projects, excursions and other activities.

"The demand has been so great that we have outgrown the site and will now move to Orchard Hills," Sunnyfield chief executive Caroline Cuddihy said.

"We also have a site in North

St Marys and have expanded to a second site in Minchinbury where we employ people."

Ms Cuddihy said the outcome of the recent Equal Remuneration case, involving workers in the social, community and disability services industry, could attract even more employees.

In 2012, most of the Full Bench determined that pay rates for levels 2 to 8 in the Social, Community Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 be increased by 19 to 41 per cent over eight years.

"Unfortunately in the past, the sector was institutionalised and it was a one-size-fits-all model," Ms Cuddihy of West Pennant Hills said.

She said the sector had become far more professional and there were greater training opportunities available.

"To work in this sector you have to be really patient and caring — and have a sense of humour," Ms Humlin said.

"A lot of the time you have to be able to laugh off what they do, instead of getting angry."

According to Western Sydney: An Economic Profile — a briefing paper published by Daniel Montoya in August 2012 — Ms Humlin was one of 90,752 people employed in health care and social assistance in western Sydney in May 2012.

A whopping 31,168 of those joined the sector between May 2006 and May 2012, to make it the fastest growing industry of employment for the period.

With 87,300 people, manufacturing was the only industry to lose jobs, losing 1132 employees over six years.

FAST FACTS

8866 people in the Penrith local government area — the second-highest number — listed their industry of employment as health care and social assistance in the 2011 Census

3081 of the above people — the majority — worked as community and personal service workers

10,261 people in the Penrith local government area listed their industry as manufacturing. Of those, the highest number, 2632, were technicians and trades workers

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